Probably everyone I know is guilty of this biggest photography sin – taking lots artistic and beautiful pictures only to leave them stored up on your hard drive when they should be printing them. Is that really why you love photography? Is that how you show pride in what you do?
Your best pictures should be handing on the walls and the rest should make beautiful albums. Having trouble fitting all the photographs in physical albums? That’s a good sign that you have too many of them – pick only the best ones and get to printing. Trust me – if you leave them where they are you won’t ever look at them again. Your photos speak for themselves by hanging on your walls. They tell the story of your life.
But to do your pictures justice, you have to make some important decisions before printing them out. Size. Paper. How many megapixels? Wait, does it have to be paper? Relax, read on, and by the end of the article, you will have it all figured out.
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Deciding on the picture sizing
All the camera and phone salesmen keep telling you that this new camera has x or y megapixels. The numbers are super exciting and you open up your wallet just to make sure you have 1 or 2 megapixels more than your previous camera did. But what does it all actually mean? Why should you care?
Well, the megapixels in your camera refer to how many pixels per picture there is going to be. 1 megapixel is equal to 1 million pixels. And, pixels are like tiny puzzle pieces that come together to make your final picture. As you can imagine, the more pixels there are, the bigger your image can be.[Text Wrapping Break][Text Wrapping Break]So in reality, it doesn’t make sense to spend money on a new camera just to get few extra MP, as most of us won’t be printing large-scale pictures. Have a look at the chart below. It is clear that something like 12 megapixels is more than enough if you’re simply taking pictures for a holiday album.
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But how many pixels do I need if I’m a professional?
When printing professional pictures you should aim to have 300 PPI (pixels per inch). This is the industry standard and every professional printing service will ask you to provide your images with 300 PPI (sometimes referred to as DPI). For prints larger than 8×10 I would say it is important to stick to that rule. For anything smaller in size, 200 PPI should be just fine. Especially if you are going to print for your photo albums and not a gallery viewing.
Here is how you can work out the pixel count
For images that are 8×10 you multiply each number by 300. That will be your image resolution that is required to stick to 300 pixels per inch. Now that you know your resolution for final print is 3000×2400 you can multiply these two numbers together and end up with the total pixels needed for high-quality print of that size. If the maths is correct, you should end up with 7 200 000 otherwise known as 7.2 MP.
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Deciding on the finish when photo printing
There is a variety of different finishes that you can apply to your prints. It took me a while to wrap my head around which one is which and when to use it. But for the sake of simplicity (as complex as it is), let’s just look at the main ones:
Gloss paper results in smooth, shiny and reflective prints. These are probably the most common prints you will come across. When handling gloss pictures, it is highly advised to use cotton gloves or otherwise risk leaving juicy fingerprints on the darker parts of your pictures. The colors are usually vibrant and with a lot of contrast. Also, keep in mind that gloss finish scratches easily and when framed under a glass, will most likely stick to it overtime.
If you are after a less shiny and more textured picture then matte can be a good choice. Your pictures will have less contrast but the texture will be superior. It is a popular choice for professionals and it is easily the number one choice for black and white pictures. When printed with matte finish photographs seem to come to life. As a bonus, your fingerprints will not be as visible and it is a bit more scratch resistant.
Think of this as a combination of gloss and matte finishes. The images have a slight pearly shine, deeper colors and more contrast than a matte finish. Unlike gloss finish, luster doesn’t have so much glare so it is a good choice for the wall mounted pictures. The paper itself is also slightly thicker and more durable.
How do I actually print my pictures?
Almost everyone has a decent printer at home capable of printing photos. The trouble is that you are very limited by size it doesn’t necessarily produce good results.
For photo albums, there are plenty of online services that do quick and cheap prints. You simply upload the files you want to be printed, wait for a few days and receive them in your mailbox. Easy! However, when picking an online service provider, keep in mind that they probably receive thousands of pictures each day. The model of their business is quick and cheap service, not quality service. Finding a dedicated printing professional is always a better option when it comes to quality. Downside? The price. Printing studios work with much smaller numbers of photographs each day and they strive to produce a high-quality professional product. Also, these are usually the guys who don’t have customers calling back with unsatisfactory results. When it comes to large print, I would highly recommend using the second option. When putting a picture on your wall, you want to make sure it is the very best possible version. Something you will be proud to look at over the years to come.
And although this article is mainly focused on printing on paper, this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. You can have your pictures printed on just about anything – glass, ceramics, stone, and even metal. But more about all that crazy stuff next time. Redfox Out.
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